Apology Letter
(Found poem)
from Mark Whittaker

Dear Biljana,

Not only is the email system
broken and the computer network full
of viruses, the daycare system

is a slurry of snot and symptomology.
Brandt has gotten ill
again, and Paulette is taking
care of him now, but I'm going
to have to take over
as she is only one on-site at Entergy
this week, her co-worker on vacation of course.

Unless I get Grandmother to come over
to the house, I'll miss Lorenzo's
reading. Will call later
to make sure you get this.


Summer 2005 Issue

Spring 2005 Issue

Autumn/Winter 2005 Issue

Summer 2004 Issue

Winter 2004 Issue

Summer 2003 Issue

Editor's Note


SNR's Writers


Nail Cutting
August 9, 2004

I can cut my baby son's nails
only when he's in deep sleep, and
at least an hour into it,
usually during the day
as the light is better. I can't
see his tiny fingernails
even with my bifocals and
if I should wake him
at least he would have slept a while.
When the small nail clippers touch
his nails and I press them down
to cut he moves his hand or toe
as even in his sleep he's resisting
and doesn't want me to do it.
But I hold him gently, continue
till I cut all of them on both hands
once every two weeks, and the toe nails
which don't grow as fast'once
every month. The frail nails when
they grow can bend sometimes in
between the clippings, and often
get dirt under them,
even though I bathe him every night.
It's easier now at sixteen months,
unlike before when I thought
I'd cut the whole finger off.

The Flower Girl
after Edgar Degas' The Dance Class (1874?)

For young girls posture is everything!
'Stand straight, hold your head high,
and walk with your feet in the front,
not sideways,' my mother used to say.
I didn't know why I had to do this,
but I listened. At school girls
would say they even put books on their heads
to balance with them, keep their backs straight
but I refused to do it'tried without them.
But, when I joined my first dance class
(I was a teenager), the teachers thought
I had good posture, but needed
to learn the steps, to catch up with
all the other girls who had
been going to the classes for years.
We didn't wear pretty white
chiffon skirts or dresses when we practiced,
but tight black leotards
and tights, with white or pink ballet shoes.
I stood on my tiptoes, extended
my arms with fingers in the right position.
The hardest thing was to turn around
fast and make sure I faced the audience.
I was too worried about being dizzy.
So thin&I didn't know that all that
was for the sake of attracting men.
No one told me that. All that for their sake?
I thought that I would become a ballerina.
I was doing it for myself because I loved
how ballerinas moved on stage; I loved to dance.
We did get to wear the beautiful tutus for our performance
and make-up and hair in buns. I shined
when I walked on stage, not as a swan, but a flower girl.

Siesta Just Before Lunch
for Brigitte and Patrizia de Rachewiltz

The baby is asleep and I can sit outside
try to dry the wet spots on my clothes.
I had to wash the drops of food
splattering on me as I had fed him lunch.
The sun shines even in the overcast sky,
filled with clouds, and the distant high
mountain peaks filled with snow. On the
castle's faculty apartment balcony
the cool breeze fans my face, the sound of
cicadas in the trees below,
the lawn mower with the smell
of the freshly cut grass. I can still
taste the breakfast coffee, the sliced
mortadella on black Tirolian bread.
Soon it'll be time for lunch, and
another of Brigitte's famous entrees.
What will she make today? Yesterday,
she had chicken kabobs over colorful rice
with cumin, raisins, a salad, a fruit cocktail.

The castle wine was on the table
and I sipped it as Patrizia told me
how (after seeing Petar pick little
pieces of lint off the window) her son,
Damien, once when they'd come to visit her
grandmother, Olga, had noticed
the price tag on her dress. Poor, old woman
hadn't even noticed, but the baby had.
Who was more embarrassed?
The grandmother or the baby's mother?
Babies know no shame.

Peace and Joy

Not a moment too soon did I walk over
to cool off my feet and hot summer body
into the water (but didn't go in completely
afraid of the murky, dark and invisible
creatures below) that I looked north and
saw a storm approaching, late afternoon
darkness on a late summer day. The water
and sky were colored a dark shade of gray,
and in between a patch of pale sky,
not a cloud, and the sand beige
and light gray. The dragonflies, and
bees scurried, running away from
thunder. The lightning made me run inside too.
The doors and windows began to
rattle and still my baby slept his
afternoon nap. But, I was sure, he
too, like the birds and insects, would
soon awake and seek safety.
In his case it'll be his mother'me,
to breastfeed him before the oncoming storm.
The rainbow in the end, after the rain'
hope for a more peaceful morning, a new day.

August 20, 2003 Dauphin Island

Biljana D. Obradovic, originally from Yugoslavia, who has lived in Greece, and India, is Associate Professor of English at Xavier University of Louisiana, 
where she teaches Creative Writing. She has published two collections of poems: Le Riche Monde and Frozen Embraces. Her work is also in
Three Poets in New Orleans. Her poems recently appeared in such anthologies as Like Thunder: Poets Respond in Violence in America
and Key West: A Collection. She also has two books of translation, and two more on their way.

Copyright 2005, Biljana D. Obradovic. This work is protected under the U.S. copyright laws. It may not be reproduced, reprinted, reused, or altered without the expressed written permission of the author.